Research facility Diamond Light Source appoints new director

Rob Walden

Research facility Diamond Light Source has appointed chartered engineer Rob Walden to lead its “massive upgrade” into Diamond-II.

The facility, at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, recently revealed its plans for the upgrade, which will enable a huge expansion of UK science capabilities as it involves a coordinated programme of development combining state-of-the-art technology in a new machine, five new flagship beamlines and a comprehensive series of upgrades to its Instruments.

Rob has 20 years’ experience in delivering business and process improvement programmes in the aerospace manufacturing engineering industry.

This was followed by several years as a senior projects advisor in central government where he was involved in, and delivered, nationwide policy projects as well as helping to develop the programme delivery framework for government.

Rob was also part of the Cabinet Office’s Gateway Assurance review team and conducted a number of forensic assurance delivery reviews for programmes of national interest.

Additionally, he helped to set up the national programme office structure for Highways England and ran two busy Project Management Offices.

Rob joined Diamond Light Source from Sellafield Ltd where he focused on raising the standards of the programme delivery framework, which included the appointment and development of the SRO (Senior Responsible Officer) function for major projects of national interest.

“For over 15 years Diamond has been a leading centre for synchrotron science on the world stage, supporting UK business and academia to undertake cutting-edge research in a diverse set of areas and sectors,” said Rob.

“I am delighted to join a team of such esteemed colleagues as we move into the next chapter in Diamond’s life, the detailed planning of the delivery of Diamond-II to secure long-term funding, pushing the boundaries of scientific research even further and keeping the UK at the forefront of scientific research.”

The Diamond-II programme has six principal strategic objectives:

  • Retain and build on a world leading research facility and influence on the global stage through transformative technology;
  • Provide a step change in ability to generate knowledge and ideas to solve 21st century challenges;
  • Increase the capacity to serve a growing, increasingly diverse science community;
  • Improve the efficiency and productivity of industrial partners, particularly in the health and energy sectors;
  • Maximise the benefits of research institutes working together – both at the Harwell Campus and further across the UK as Diamond acts as a national and international hub for collaborative working;
  • Inspire and develop the next generation of STEM professionals.

Professor Andrew Harrison, CEO of Diamond says that Diamond’s success owes a great debt of gratitude to the trust and commitment of its funding agencies the UK Research and Innovation’s STFC (Science Technology and Facilities Council) and the Wellcome Trust who have provided ongoing support, are fully behind Diamond-II and have enabled its preliminary funding.

This year marks 15 years of Diamond Light Source delivering science and innovation to the worldwide science community and 20 years since it was set up in 2002.

“We are entering a new era of opportunity with the advent of fourth generation synchrotrons,” said Professor Harrison.

“So, we are delighted that Rob will be leading what will be a massive transformation in our capabilities. Progress in accelerator technology means Diamond-II will offer the scientific community in academia and industry the opportunity to exploit much brighter beams and an increased coherence over a large energy range on all our beamlines and additional beamlines.

“It will help inspire the next generation of STEM professionals and create new opportunities for researchers in universities, research institutes and industry, ultimately having a lasting impact on our society and the economy.”